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Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, left, tries to break away from Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Marvin Mitchell during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Once a week throughout the 2013 season, we will focus upon on a player or matchup that could prove troublesome for the Giants in their upcoming game. This week’s spotlight is on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Judged by the high standard he set last year as a rookie, Robert Griffin III has had a disappointing 2013 season. His completion percentage has fallen almost six percentage points, and he is rushing for almost two yards less per carry.
Perhaps some struggles were to be expected in Griffin’s first season back after tearing an ACL in January. Perhaps he has regressed as a passer. Opinions abound on the matter, especially after Griffin completed 17 of 27 passes for a mere 127 yards and was sacked four times in Washington’s 27-6 loss to San Francisco on Monday.
After the game, 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks told Comcast SportsNet Washington that Griffin isn’t at full strength.
“Everybody can see it,” said Brooks, who went on to say Griffin shouldn’t be playing and was showing fortitude by taking the field.
Even if Griffin isn’t in top form, his numbers and skill set still suggest he could be a tough matchup for the Giants’ defense on Sunday.
Entering week 13, Griffin is on pace to exceed 4,100 yards passing and 500 yards rushing. He has compiled a higher completion percentage, thrown for more yards and committed fewer turnovers than the Giants’ Eli Manning.
Griffin's QB rating has topped 100 three times this season, most recently in the Nov. 7 loss at Minnesota, when he completed 24 of 37 passes for 281 yards with three touchdowns. Granted, the Vikings’ pass defense isn’t exactly strong — Minnesota has allowed 28 TD passes in 11 games.
Still, three games before facing the Redskins, the Vikings played the Giants — and held Eli Manning to 200 yards and one touchdown. What’s more, the Vikings’ pass defense limited the Packers’ Scott Tolzien to 7 of 17 passing for 98 yards Sunday before he was relieved by Matt Flynn.
Griffin has a playmaking go-to receiver in Pierre Garcon, who has hauled in 75 passes for 920 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants should make stopping Garcon a top priority, as Washington does not have an especially deep group of targets to complement him.
If the Giants can limit Garcon and put pressure on Griffin, they can limit Washington’s big-play potential in the passing game. The 49ers sacked the former Heisman winner four times on Monday night, and Washington did not have a passing play longer than 18 yards.
A very good San Francisco defense made the Washington offense look very ordinary on Monday night. Griffin will have the better of a week to make the necessary adjustments. The same goes for Washington coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Better protecting Griffin is a must. A diet of quicker-hitting passes designed to blunt pass-rush pressure might be in order.